Is Equality Always the Best Thing?

Edmund Burke was convinced that governments need to respond to practical needs of society, but equality does not exist. Inferior members of society need to look up to their superiors. Under a new immigration policy, President Obama’s executive action will allow immigrants to be eligible for Social Security benefits. These immigrants would be seen as inferior to Burke, as described in his essay, Reflections on the Revolution in France.

Two immigrants pushing for reform
Two immigrants pushing for reform

Burke wrote Reflections on the Revolution in France to warn England about destructive change that was infecting the citizens of France. Burke’s view of tradition was a major portion of his writings, as he felt that tradition is the most reliable source of political knowledge, which explained how society should live, and what they should do. Burke wrote: “Along with its natural protectors and guardians, learning will be cast into mire and trodden under the hoofs of a swinish multitude.” He was trying to tell society to not try to educate everyone or make everyone equal because he argued that a vast majority of people are inferior. This appalling quote by Burke portrays how he would be in disgust over Obama’s actions towards immigration policies.

Edmund Burke

Obama’s main goal of the executive action was to bring those individuals who have been in the United States for a long amount time, and give them a work permit on the books, and eventually give them a Social Security number, which would make them taxpayers. Obama argues that, “After all, most of these immigrants have been here a long time. They work hard often in tough, low paying jobs. They support their families. They worship at our churches. Many of the kids are American born or spent spent most of their lives here. And their hopes, dreams, and patriotism are just like ours.” Obama did this to increase the economic benefits of the country, by allowing these individuals to not get paid in cash, but on the books, and be a part of our economy.

Immigrants expressing their views

This change in our society would not boast well for Burke, as this can be displayed through his ideas of reason, freedom, equality, and social contract:

  • Reason: Things should get done through collective and cumulative ways.
  • Freedom: Members of society are only free when you obey the laws.
  • Equality: Members of society should also focus on the sense that equality does not exist, but you need to look up to your superiors, as mentioned above.
  • Social Contract: Social contracts only exist over generations, in the sense that we owe to the past and future generations to not change the world to dramatically, as change should only be incremental change.

Overall, Burke’s views completely contradict the actions of Obama, as he would severely disagree to try to create equality between inferiors, immigrants and their superiors, citizens.

One thought on “Is Equality Always the Best Thing?

  1. Great comparison of views! I wonder what Burke would have to say about the conventional “American” seeing as how America is a nation of immigrants. It stands for a good argument, and i think Obama understands that apart of what made America a great nation was the fact that the “immigrants” were given a chance by someone. He’s all about expanding opportunities, and it could be argued that Burke is too, only to those who fall within his criteria.


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